Summer Reading List: The MCBA Visual Journal Collective Recommends Books

July 21, 2011

See the complete post for details.

On Monday, July 18, 2011 the MCBA Visual Journal Collective met to watch a movie and discuss art and journaling books.

I couldn't get a copy of the movie I wanted to show, so I borrowed a Charles Reid DVD and we all learned how he does his contour drawings and applies his watercolors. I thought the instruction was really clear, as was the photography. "Watercolor Secrets." I recommend it. (It fell logically into my cunning plan to get people ready for the August 27, 2011 Third Annual Minnesota State Fair Sketchout! Details to come.)

Afterwards we each shared three or so of our favorite books. I wasn't able to take meaningful notes for each suggestion. Most people chose these books because 1. The book contained a lot of journal art and was inspirational, 2. There book contained a lot of exercises (for journaling), or 3. The book provided strong foundational skills.

Whatever their reasons, those present who brought books, recommended the books which appear in the following list as worth reading. (I will add others if other Collective members who couldn't attend, or who didn't know the authors of their books, send me that information.)

At the end of the list are a couple annotated recommendations because these people also sent me a follow up email and I thought I'd just put in the entire annotation.

Next, so that it doesn't get lost at the end of this email I want to remind everyone that our August 15 meeting we'll be learning how to make reed pens with Thomas Winterstein. I'll post a reminder closer to the date, but mark your calendars now. (Thomas has some other reminders that I'll be putting in a separate post.)

Book Recommendations from the MCBA Visual Journal Collective
(Books on art, how-to, journaling, book arts, writing, and creativity)
I didn't provide links because most books will be found through a quick Google search or a call to your local bookstore; some will need to be searched for through used book venues.

Items with an asterisk (*) were recommended by several members as very useful books.

Suzanne Hughes
*Making Color Sing, by Jean Dobie
*Artist's Journal Workshop,
by Cathy Johnson
*Keys to Drawing, by Bert Dobson

Gwen Partin
Art Revolution: Alternative Approaches for Fine Artists and Illustrators, by Lisa L. Cyr
Drawing with Imagination, by Bert Dobson

Heather Rachel Johnson
Playing with Books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing and Reimagining the Book, by Jason Thompson
Creative Awakenings—Envisioning the Life of Your Dreams Through Art, by Sheri Gaynor

Barb Kiffe
In and out of the Garden
South of France
A is for Adultry
—all by Sara Midda

Jen Merril
Learn How to Art with the Near-Sighted Monkey, by Lynda Barry
*Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards
*Juxtapox Magazine

Rachel Nusbaum
*Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art, by Jennifer New

Molly Anthony
The Journal Junkies Workshop, by Eric Scott and David Modler
Journal Spilling, by Diana Trout
Visual Chronicles, by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino

Briana Goetzen
Unfurling, with Misty Mawn
The Art Journal Workshop, by Tracy Bunkers
*Creative Wildfire, by L.K. Ludwig
Drawn In, by Julia Rothman

Clare Farrell
You are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination, by Katharine Harmon
The Decorated Page, by Gwen Diehn
The Decorated Journal, by Gwen Diehn

Jaimee Isaac
The Illustrated Life, by Danny Gregory

Laura McHugh
Digital Photo Transfers, by Bonnie pierce Lhotka
The Sketchbook Project, Brooklyn Project

Laurie Phillips
Life, Paint and Passion, by Michelle Casson

Thomas Winterstein
The drawing instruction books by Hale
*Creative Ink Drawing, by Paul Hogarth (probably out of print)

*Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters, by Robert Beverly Hale.  It is still in print. I learned a lot from this book, and continue to learn more as I grow as an artist.  It is a book for the long haul.

*The Pen & Ink Book—Materials and Techniques for Today's Artist, by Jos. A Smith. It is still available used. Although it is not my favorite book on pen and ink drawing it covers all the different modern materials and methods for using pen and ink. The illustrations are very good. It has a great section on drawing strategies and drawing exercises.

Books by Henry C. Pitz.  His book Pen, Brush, and Ink inspired me when I was in the sixth grade. Unfortunately, his books are out of print, but are widely available used.

Books by Ted Kautzky.  His Ways with Watercolor is an excellent introduction to watercolor painting and it has been reprinted. His books on pencil drawing are outstanding.

Books by Ernest W. Watson.  I recommend Creative Perspective for Artists and Illustrators and Compositon in Landscape and Still Life. Both are still in print. Like Kautzky's books his books on pencil drawing are outstanding.

Finally, since high school I have read and reread books by Arthur L. Guptill. He was an architect and architectural renderer so his books have that slant. Some are still in print  Many are available used.

Marsha Micek
Botany for the Artist, by Sarah Simblet (Note from Roz: See also Simblet's Anatomy for the Artist.)

Anything by Karl Blossfeldt. He was a sculptor and art professor in the 1920s who took photographs of plants for the use of his students. Most of the photos are closeups so the viewer can see the wonderful patterns that exist in nature. One of his books Working Collages is a from original negatives of his work. Although they're exquisitely reproduced, however, the images are small. A really good one is Art Forms in Nature which is reprinted by Dover. Unfortunately, as with many Dover reprints, the images aren't that great. Since they still show the form, that can be overlooked.

Like Thomas, I also troll the used book stores–online and off. I found a great book there called A Book of Studies in Plant Forms and Design by AEV Lilley and W Midgley. Again it's for students. It shows suggestive designs for students and since it's from the 1920s there's a decided Art Nouveau slant to a lot of them.

Karen Engelbretson
Karen suggested this link about designers and books.

The Gift, by Lewis Hyde
Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World (no author given I'll ask her about this and update the entry)

Absolutely everything by Ellen Lupton.

She is curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City and director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. An author of numerous books and articles on design, she is a public-minded critic, frequent lecturer, and AIGA Gold Medalist. Her books feature her own paintings. Most are focused on design and typography, but she also has a few on indie publishing, DIY design, designing your life, research and writing that may be of interest to the group. Her AIGA lecture at Walker Art Center may still be on their website. Was a few years ago.

Jean Shannon
Magical Secrets about Thinking Creatively, by Kathan Brown

•The Natural Way to Draw, by Nicolaides which I used back in the day, even setting up a life drawing group with two friends to follow the exercises.  He was a great, encouraging teacher.  I especially remember a really clunky Van Gogh drawing and under it was Nicholaides' comment that we all start at the same place!  I felt so encouraged by that.  One review says, "This book doesn't give you fish—it  teaches you how to fish."

The Zen of Seeing, by Frederick Frank. I have several good friends (including Lee [Jean's husband who makes amazing pottery) who began to draw with this book, which is both personal and philosophical.  

Miss T
The Found Object in Textile Art, by Cas Holmes —This book contains lots of technique information that would be useful to mixed media artists, and it approaches stitching as a form of drawing.  I like her use of line.
Drawn to Stitch, by Gwen Hedley—Again, plenty of great technique information.  Has a nice section with photographs of things with interesting textures (rocks, fences, etc.), along with journal sketches AND textile pieces based on each photo.  Much to think about in terms of how to interpret and work with what you see. 
*Drawing Birds, by John Busby
*Tunnicliffe's Sketchbook
In Harmony with Nature, by Maxine Masterfield—All kinds of wild, wonderful techniques to try with watercolor.  Not related to journaling at all, but there are some very cool painting techniques here which are fun to play with.  It's out of print, but worth digging for a used copy online.

Roz Stendahl
I've written a bunch of book posts and reviews on this blog. There were many books on the group's list that I haven't read yet. I hope like me, you'll seek them out.

For books that I am already fond of you can go here:

Click on "books" in the category list of this blog (see left-hand column for category list). "Reviews" will also get you some book reviews, but you'll have to scroll through product reviews as well.

Find my Essential Bookshelf for Bookbinders here.

Click on this link to my review of Artist's Journal Workshop by Cathy Johnson.

Books by bird artist Lars Jonsson.

Listen to a podcast of Danny Gregory and me talking about visual journaling just before the release of An Illustrated Life, which I've reviewed, I just can't find the post right now.

Some quick book reviews on a variety of subjects, but all really related to creativity.

Collage books recommended by my friend collage artist Terry Garrett.

One of my favorite gouache painters Thomas Paquette has a book of landscape paintings.

Ricë Freeman Zachery's Creative Time and Space: Making Time for Making Art.

Reviews of the books of Charles Reid that I've read.

You get the idea. I read a lot of books. Now I have more books to read. And so do you!

Thanks to all the Collective Members who shared their reading recommendations.

  1. Reply

    Roz – thank you for all this great information! Lots of great book titles.

    • PeggySu
    • July 21, 2011

    Thank you! Lots of fascinating titles and authors I’ve never heard of. I was a bit surprised no one mentioned Edgar A. Whitney’s 1958 “Complete Guide to Watercolor Painting” which has a lot of advice about art per se. Many newer books mention Whitney’s ideas but it’s fun to read the original.

    • LizzieBo
    • July 21, 2011

    Thank you for the list. That’s a fair of amount of info to process and I look forward to exploring it. Also, Thank you for the palette suggestions. I continue to work my little palette and am finding it very interesting. I had to make a little guide for myself (even with such a small selection) but I’m getting more and more familiar with the combinations. Much fun. I lost my pentel pocket brush and that forced me to work with some other pens till my mail order arrived. What I find particularly joyful, is my 11- year old daughter is experimenting with a journal, without any promting from me. I have shown her my work and although she tends to perfectionism, she is allowing herself to explore. It makes me so happy to sit with her while we are both sketching. Joy! I really appreciate your encouraging posts.

    • Miss T
    • July 21, 2011

    Great list, Roz. Thanks to you and to everyone who contributed titles!

    • BJ
    • July 22, 2011

    I just got Cathy Johnson’s book on journaling and I really, really love that book!

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